Steindorff Collection


Bridwell Library purchased the Steindorff Collection in 1952 from the widow of the eminent German Egyptologist, Dr. Georg Steindorff (1861-1951). The collection consists of 1,700 books, over 2,000 reprints and pamphlets, several hundred photographs, and a collection of clippings and private correspondence.  Mrs. Fred B. Ingram and Mrs. W. J. Morris, daughters of the late Dr. A. V. Lane, contributed toward purchase of the Steindorff Collection in memory of their father.

Born November 12, 1861, Georg Steindorff outlived all other students of Adolph Erman, with whom he and Kurt Sethe co-founded the famous Berlin University School of Egyptology. In 1893 Steindorff who previously had been assistant to the Director of the State Museum (Berlin) and lecturer (Privatdozent) in the University of Berlin, was appointed Professor of Egyptology in the University of Leipzig. There he founded the famous Ägyptologische Institut, in which he undertook an ambitious program of education, chiefly along three lines: 1) basic philological instruction through lecture and seminar; 2) orientation of the student in the broadest possible knowledge of the ancient orient, espeically its history, theology, and languages, as these may [be] drawn from the history, art, and culture of ancient Egypt; 3) alongside Egyptological and oriental studies per se, study of classical archaeology is mandatory for insight into ancient Egyptian and hitherasiatic culture. To this end, the institute assembled at first a great collection of photographs of the major Egyptian antiquities (many hundreds of these reproductions are included in the Steindorff collection acquired by Bridwell Library). It became obvious, however, that it was insufficient to portray only Egyptian art; what was needed was a representation of the entire Egyptian Kulturentwicklung. Steindorff proposed to fill the Institute from his own excavations. This was accomplished by many expeditions originating at Leipzig, directed by Dr. Steindorff, and financed by popular subscription, imperial support, Leipzig businessmen, and a staggering amount of popular writing by Steindorff. Six major expeditions, 1895-1908, made the collection at Leipzig one of the major Egyptian Collections of the world.

Dr. Steindorff held his professorship in the University of Leipzig for forty-two years. In 1935, after the publication of the Nuremberg Laws, he was refused admittance to his beloved Egyptian Museum and Institute, and in 1939 the internal political situation plus the difficulties attending his Jewish birth drove him to seek refuge in America, the only consolation being that he managed to escape with his entire library. At the age of seventy-eight, though constantly plagued with the necessity of making a living, he set to work anew in North Hollywood, California. After he was eighty years old he produced three major works: When Egypt Ruled the East (a revision of a work he had written before the turn of the century, Die Blütezeit des Pharoanenreiches). This book, co-authored with Keith Seele, was the first book in America to attempt a summary of ancient Egyptian culture. In addition he wrote the Beginnings of Coptic Language and Literature, forming part of his revision for the third edition of his standard Koptische Grammatik. As Egyptological Research Adviser to the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, he produced a Catalogue of Egyptian Sculptures in possession of that institution; and for the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts he wrote the text of their publication Egypt, which is a collection of their Egyptian antiquities photographed by Hoymingen-Huene. At the time of his death in January of 1952, aged 91, Dr. Steindorff was actively engaged in the pursuance of several life-long studies, one of the most notable being the preparation of a Coptic-Egyptian etymological dictionary.

Excerpt: Decherd Turner Introductory Speech

The Steindorff letters have been re-housed and a finding aid has been created. The TARO finding aid is here and the PDF version of the finding aid is here.




Inventory 1970s


Steindorff Collection Digital Projects


A. V. Lane Collection


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